By Larisa Karr – Contributor – firstname.lastname@example.org
When I entered the Civic Center, ahem, the U.S. Cellular Center, on Saturday night, there was a complete and distinct picture of the type of demographics a Pixies concert would attract. Specifically, late 40-something yuppies reliving their days of debauchery by getting sloshed on trendy local beer, smiling at each other in between half-bounces and maybe a yelp or two during “Where Is My Mind.”
However, I was wrong. Quite wrong. There were people of all ages from all different ends of the social spectrum, including, but not limited to: little girls in Nirvana tshirts, baby boomers and a pack of pseudo-punk teens prone to excessive head banging.
This turned out to be quite insignificant, as by the end of the concert, I found myself asking, to quote that most popular song, where the hell is my mind?
The opening indie band “Cults” kicked things off on a solid note. Their dark, reverb-soaked indie-rock, juxtaposed with the coquettish voice and mannerisms of lead singer, Madeline Follin, lightly placed everybody in the slightly demented frame of mind beloved by Pixies fans.
The instant lead singer Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and touring guitarist Paz Lenchantin appeared on stage, the entire crowd was on their feet. They opened with none other than “Bone Machine,” the first track off their legendary Surfer Rosa album.
The band did not make small talk with the audience at all, but instead chose to respond through a non-stop set that wove its way in and around all the slightly jagged edges of their repertoire, including “Cactus,” “Wave of Mutilation” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”
I always used to be the sort of concertgoer who believed bands that had outplayed their prime would not be so enthusiastic in their later years. This changed last year when I saw The Melvins play an insanely energetic and beautiful non-stop set that just developed a spirit of its own. So, after seeing a concert where the Pixies did nearly the same thing, I will advise going to see a band that has been established for a while is probably a good reason to stock up on ramen and save for a ticket.
The highlight of the night, for me at least, was when they played the chaotic “Vamos” for around eight minutes instead of the usual five, extending a riff in the middle of the song to echo throughout the theater for several minutes. During this time, they introduced themselves silently by individually playing their instruments louder when their band mates turned toward them.
Given the fact that this is their first big tour in a few years, it would seem the Pixies would opt either for a few drawn-out slow versions of their hits or, in order to satiate the fans, cram the fan favourites into a set that seemed to move at the speed of a heavy, industrial train. The majority of the songs were played in the latter manner, fast, hot and heavy, so at times they felt Ramones-esque. The industrial grey block background and cornea-searing stage lights almost gave off the ambience of a hair-metal concert. But alas, by the time they rolled around to the inevitable “Where Is My Mind,” everyone, including the jump-happy tribe of teenagers, had mellowed out into a state of reverence.
The thundering encore produced the performance of another fan favourite, “Debaser,” the perfect note for them to end on. As the ending notes poured off the stage like water breaking through a dam, they stopped and walked around the stage, waving their hands in appreciation to an audience that savoured them like dogs savour bones (with a little machine).